The Australian art world lost a beautiful soul this week, Judy Cassab. Gifted, gracious, passionate and inspirational, a lady who I had the privilege to meet and consequently correspond with years later.
About 12 years ago I was working in an art gallery in Mosman, Sydney. My boss at the time asked if I would like to accompany her to the opening of the famous Archibald prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Naturally I jumped at the chance and accepted eagerly. The Archibald Prize at AGNSW is a celebrated portrait prize and a hot ticket on the Sydney art social calendar.
The opening was packed and I was in awe of the celebrities and acclaimed artists who mingled in the crowd. I noticed a familiar face who I had only read about in books, Judy Cassab. Telling my boss, she immediately introduced herself to Judy and I followed suit. Fumbling for words, I explained that I adored her work and would love to have a piece one day. To the shock of my boss and myself, Judy graciously invited me to visit her home to look at her work. I was speechless but managed to say a big YES and thank you!
Post the opening, I wrote to Judy and asked if I could visit. She replied and we arranged a time for the following week. Her home was inspirational. Walls were covered with art and artifacts from some of Australia's most celebrated artists. She showed me a beautiful drawing of her Grandmother which she had drawn when she 12. It had the hand of a master. Exquisite marks and confident lines. I was also surprised when I saw her studio had white carpet! The sign of a confident artist who knows she won't make a mess. I did buy two works that day. One for my mother and one for myself.
Later Judy and I exchanged letters. She encouraged me to find my 'handwriting style"; one which was my signature mark. I connected with her passion, dogged determination and what she explained as "I'll show you" attitude. Meeting Judy gave me the courage to pursue my passion of drawing. Perhaps if we hadn't met, life may be a little different today. A real 'sliding door' moment.
Love and blessings to this beautiful lady who overcame extreme hardship to pursue her passion. May her legacy live on.
I'll be lighting a candle for her in the studio today.
Vale Judy Cassab. Thank you for believing.
Letters from Judy and her two books.